Higher Education for All

What We're Up Against

States that invest in higher education are thriving. States that don’t, aren’t.

West Virginia has the highest rate in the nation–77%–of kids who need to take out loans to get through college. We also have the highest rate of student loan default in the nation.

Where once a kid could work at a minimum wage job during the summer to pay for college, now that same work would only pay for about 25% of tuition–presuming every cent of that money is going to nothing else (like, for instance, food or shelter).

What that all boils down to is that when our hardworking kids graduate college, more than three-quarters of them are in debt, leaving us with a “brain drain,” as jobs that pay well enough for them to meet loan payments take them away from our state.

Our Plan

  • Provide publicly-funded college tuition for every eligible West Virginian attending a public college, vocational/ technical college, or certification program
  • Execute the country’s most ambitious state-level Student Loan Forgiveness Plan. The Take Me Home Plan will provide educational loan forgiveness for tens of thousands of West Virginians, and for college graduates who move here.
  • Provide relief to people who have already borrowed, by prohibiting wage garnishment in West Virginia due to unpaid student loan debt.
  • Develop a first-in-the-nation state program for increasing rural student college retention rates–and re-enrolling those who have left.

Invest in partnerships between high and middle schools and apprenticeship programs, as well as programs in Community and Technical Colleges, partnering with unions when possible. With this investment, some students will be able to graduate from high school with a technical certification or even an Associate’s Degree.

  • Pilot a workforce navigators program that will help increase collaboration between high schools, colleges, technical colleges, and the job market.
  • Invest in job training, apprenticeship, and job placement programs in the state already having success. WV Women Work is one such example.


No one politician or slate of candidates can win this plan alone. We need you.

If you have an idea for how to make this plan stronger, or if you would like to lend a hand to win it, contact our co-chair Stephen Smith at stephen@wvcantwait.com.

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Join the Movement

It will take 1,000 leaders not 1 to win a West Virginia that works for all of us. That means we need you!